Making an Issue Where There is None – That the Obama Administration is Anti-Religion
A frequently asked question, at least in the circle of acquaintances of The Dismal Political Economist is whether or not there is any issue Republicans will not distort for political gain, even if it means encouraging the type of religious divisions that have plagued other nations for centuries. The answer so far, apparently not.
The Obama administration was faced with the question of whether or not to require sectarian businesses operated or sponsored by religious organizations to provide birth control as part of their employee health care plans. This is a difficult decision, and there are arguments on both sides. What there is not is an anti-religious argument, that is something the Republicans have come up with to try to score political gains.
The argument against requiring non-church related businessess operated by religious groups who oppose family planning to offer those products in its health plan is a reasonable one. Such a requirement requires an organization to indirectly support actions which are in opposition to their beliefs. That doesn’t sound right.
But on the other side is the argument that such organizations should not use the power of the employer to force their religious beliefs on their employees. When a religious group operates in the secular world it can encourage but not force its views on that secular world. A person working for a hospital or university should not have to obey the dictates of a religion that he or she does not belong to just to have gainful employment. There is also the health care argument, that for many people family planning support is needed for both physical and emotional health.
So the argument in favor of requiring the availability of contraception in health care plans is not based on hostility to religion. In fact, one could say it is based on religious freedom, that while anyone can practice the religion of their choice, they cannot impose that religion on another person.
But Republicans see an opening here, an opportunity cast the Obama Administration as engaging on a war on religion.
Mitt Romney said in his speech after winning the
primary Tuesday that Mr. Obama ordered "religious organizations to violate their conscience." Florida
Newt Gingrich, a Catholic convert, told voters in
on Wednesday that the administration "has declared war on the Catholic Church." Nevada
And some church leaders will urge their congregations to political action.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R.,
) introduced legislation this week that would overturn the rule, a part of Mr. Obama's 2010 health-care overhaul. And religious leaders say they plan to continue asking Catholics to protest the measure ahead of the November election. . . . Fla.
Mr. Rubio, who is often discussed as a potential vice presidential nominee, said he hopes his legislation will gain enough support to persuade Mr. Obama to change his mind. If not, he promised to make the president's decision an issue in the November election.
"The notion that somehow the president and the federal government think they're more important than the church in matters such as this is going to be offensive to Americans from all walks of life, including non-Catholics," Mr. Rubio said.
The truth of the matter is that Mr. Rubio is wrong, because as it turns out
A new report from the Guttmacher Institute, the nonprofit sexual health research organization, shows that only 2 percent of Catholic women, even those who regularly attend church, rely on natural family planning.
The latest data shows practices of Catholic women are in line with women of other religious affiliations and adult American women in general.
, contraceptive use and strong religious beliefs are highly compatible," said the report's lead author Rachel Jones. America
Thus it is only church leaders, not the population of church goers who are upset. That is why there is no demonstrating, no protests and no widespread opposition to the President’s decision, other than among Republicans who would exploit and encourage divisive religious beliefs for their own personal gain.
Shouldn't that be what religious leaders should be condemning?